Size matters: Samsung’s Galaxy Note reviewed

Samsung’s Galaxy Note is the biggest phone we’ve ever held to our ear, pushed in our pockets, and held on a bus. With a 5.3 inch touchscreen, it’s positively huge. Does bigger mean better?


Samsung’s first huge screen phone, the Galaxy Note is a hybrid device that sits somewhere between a phone and a tablet. Many in the industry are referring to this idea as a “phablet”,  a name that’s as silly as it sounds. We’ll just stick to calling it a big phone and see how that works for us.

The first of these devices, Samsung has given the Note a truly huge 5.3 inch Super AMOLED screen supporting a HD-capable resolution of 1280×800 and covered with Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass. While the screen doesn’t have quite the same quality as Apple’s 330ppi Retina grade screen found on the iPhone 4 and 4S, it’s not far off, reaching a highly respectable 285ppi that should prove itself to be more than pleasing for the eyes.

A big screen needs some pretty decent internals, and Samsung looks to have provided them in spades. The Galaxy Note is equipped with a dual-core 1.4GHz processor, dedicated graphics chip, 1GB RAM, and 16GB storage built in. A microSD slot is included for expanding the memory.

The Galaxy S2 on the left, the Galaxy Note on the right.

Much of this technology is similar to what Samsung has used in last year’s Galaxy S2 handset, albeit with slightly updated specs.

This re-use of Galaxy S2 technology continues with the multimedia and wireless connectivity, with the inclusion of the 8 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, support for DLNA, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and HSDPA 21Mbps maximum downlink connection.

In fact, the case is very similar, with Samsung opting to go with a similarly textured plastic back in the Galaxy Note.

The front is very much the same, with a main centre button at the bottom of the device flanked on each side menu and back buttons that light up when the phone is in use. Other buttons include the power button on the right side and the volume rocker on the left side of the handset.

Ports are fairly limited on the Galaxy Note, with a microUSB port sitting on the bottom of the handset and a 3.5mm headset jack at the top.

The back of the phone also houses an accessory, with a small black plastic stylus – the “S-Pen” – kept close to the Galaxy Note for when you need to write notes or make a scribble.

Under the back of the handset, Samsung has provided a 2500mAh battery for the Note, a number that far exceeds any other battery we’ve seen in a phone released locally thus far. The battery is so big that it occupies almost half the physical size of the Galaxy S2.

The battery size difference in the Galaxy S2 (left) and the Galaxy Note (right).

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  1. You are a moron, I’d kill to get 2 days out of a smart phone. I get 14 hours if I’m lucky and with only medium use. I’m UPGRADING to a Note!

  2. An average of two days isn’t terribly surprising. I think we hit around that – just under I think – in our review.

    The sad truth of modern smartphones is that if you want a big screen and some reasonably impressive speed in your device, you’re probably going to sacrifice battery life.

    There is a power saving mode on the Samsung phones in the settings. Try activating that and seeing if it improves things.

  3. And your proof of $90? What does iSuppli say?

    Though, it really comes down to supply and demand.

    We buy all phone accessories (4s and Note) from OS, as they are an absolute rifpoff here.

    1. I tested it out at JB Hi-Fi and it looks really cool. I can’t wait to get mine — waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

  4. I bought the galaxy note in february after having an iphone. The galaxy note is a brilliant phone. It has more customisability than iphone. Its faster. It has better hardware. The large screen makes the web and email experience a lot better.

  5. I own one and think they are highly over rated.  The only good thing about them is the good screen size and they are fast and the S Pen is cool.  My previous phone was a HTC Incredible S so naturally I thought I was upgrading, wrong.  HTC’s are alot more sturdier (Note has a flimsy almost paper thin back) there is no improvement in the camera and the HTC is a lot more configurable and user friendly and that’s a two year old phone. Alot of apps don’t run comfortably on the Note because of it’s size, you can’t have individual pics for each contact, nor even individual ringtones. If you don’t need the big screen don’t bother, get the HTC One X

    1. Can have individual pics, and ringtones at individual, group and global.

      Flexible, thin back does not make it bad, just very light.

      I have only found a couple of apps have a problem with the size. Many widget makers are making some specifically for the wider screen (icons x5 instead of x4) of the Note.

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